Firms form alliance on government ID

A group of security and web services firms will provide login identities for government web sites under plans outlined at the RSA Conference this week.

The new Open Identity Exchange (OIX) is backed by Google, Paypal and VeriSign and was formed in response to an Obama administration call for more secure ways for US citizens to participate in government web sites.

The OIX provides a way for people to use credentials provided by 'identity service providers' such as Google to sign in to government services. The scheme will be piloted at first by the National Institutes for Health for low-risk services such as customised search, conference registration and wiki editing.

The idea is to give government agencies more confidence in open identities such as those overseen by the OpenID Foundation and Information Card Foundation. These two systems are already well established for cross-site identification in the private sector, but do not meet the US government's requirements for trust.

OIX has published one spec already and said it is now working on further trust frameworks for "public media, telecommunications, library services, state and local governments, and professional associations."

Equifax, Verizon, CA, and Booz Allen Hamilton have also signed on to the OIX initiative.